Because of You marks the debut of author Jessica Scott. It seemed to me like everyone was reading and loving this book. I kept hearing great things about it and since I don’t like feeling like I’m missing out on something -and I love military romance- I decided to give it a try. I’m glad I did.
Shane Garrison is an Army infantry sergeant about to leave for Iraq. He’s an honorable guy, responsible and committed to his work and to the soldiers he’s responsible for. The Army is his life and he is willing to do and sacrifice anything for it. The night before leaving he meets nurse Jen St. James. Sparks fly but they don’t give in to the attraction because he’s about to deploy and she’s recovering from the physical and emotional scars that breast cancer left her with.
A few months later Shane is seriously wounded and is now a patient at the Fort Hood hospital where Jen works. The road to recovery isn’t easy but thankfully he has Jen to help him through it, the connection between them is there but in order to have a normal and healthy relationship they must deal with their insecurities, scars and emotional baggage first.
In case you were wondering, this isn’t a romantic suspense. I know that when the characters are in some way connected to the military the rule is that the book immediately becomes a romantic suspense, there’s a bad guy in pursuit, and the leads must run for their lives. This is not the case here. The book is labeled as a contemporary romance, and that’s exactly what it is. It just happens that the characters are members of the military, and have military-related issues. But the bad guy isn’t a drug dealer or a terrorist, the bad guy is something that soldiers and their families must deal with every day, war, what it means to be a soldier in times of war and how to adjust to all the changes and consequences that war brings to soldiers and the people surrounding them.
Shane isn’t your typical alpha male who’s indestructible and never gets hurt and Jen isn’t a damsel in distress. They are real people with real problems. The characters in this book had so much going on in their lives that they didn’t have time to behave like genre stereotypes. Instead, they acted like regular people going through extraordinary circumstances.
I really liked how Ms. Scott portrayed Shane. She made him vulnerable without taking away his manliness, and you could see his pain. This is a guy who sacrificed everything for his job, a job he suddenly finds himself unable to do, and now he has to come to terms with his wounds and unclear future.
Jen was a wounded soul. She was deeply insecure after her mastectomy and was unable to see past her scars. She also had a tough road ahead of her, and I think that this was a character that perfectly illustrates how much easier it is to help someone go through the same issues you have so much trouble dealing with yourself. It was easier for her to tell Shane that he must see past through his injuries and deal with it, than it was for her to actually overcome her own insecurities regarding her disease and body. She was a multilayered character with a lot of internal strength and I think that we can all relate to her in one way or another.
The book has a strong cast of secondary characters, some of them likeable, some of them not so much. There’s an obvious set up for the next book’s couple and I’m curious to see how their story ends, because I didn’t particularly care for them or their choices. As I said before, the book shows us how being injured affects the lives of not only the soldiers, but the lives of their most immediate family as well. So there’s a subplot involving one of Shane’s teammates losing a leg and feeling survivor’s guilt, then another of his teammates loses a hand and acts in the complete opposite way. Both have tons of demons to battle, but they do it in different ways.
The romance develops very slowly and in a very realistic way. Shane and Jen are attracted to each other but they need to heal first in order to successfully be together, and the way their relationship develops reflects this. The overall pacing of the story was slow but never dull, and the best part is that it felt real. Ms. Scott knows what she’s talking about and it was refreshing to see a different take on the military alpha-male. It was a story completely character-oriented where everyone involved, and the leads in particular, do a lot of growing up and you can see how they change throughout the story.
The book isn’t perfect, there was a scene that had me raising my eyebrow at it, it involved a catheter extraction, an erection and Jen having improper thoughts about the whole deal, the scene was a bit off-putting in the sense that it was borderline unprofessional behavior and I think Jen should have been able to tune out her thoughts or just have someone else do the procedure, I might be making it sound worse than it was, but while I was reading it I kept thinking that it was just wrong. Then there are some unresolved issues that I guess will be part of the next book’s plot. The only characters that have a clear resolution are Jen and Shane, although I can see them taking part of the next installment as well. But this is an ongoing series so it’s a bit open-ended.
Overall it was a fascinating and engaging book, full of likeable and relatable characters, with an interesting take on the military hero and a very realistic plot. I recommend this to fans of contemporary romance, tough alpha-males with a huge hearts, and to those in the mood for a different type of military romance.
Review by Brie
Keeping his men alive is all that matters to Sergeant First Class Shane Garrison. But meeting Jen St. James the night before his latest deployment makes Shane wonder if there's more to life than war. He leaves for Iraq remembering a single kiss with a woman he'll never see again- until a near fatal attack lands him back at home and in her care. Jen has survived her own brush with death and endured its scars. And yet there's a fire in Shane that makes Jen forget all about her past. He may be her patient, but when this warrior looks her in the eyes, she feels - for the first time in a long time - like a woman. Shane is too proud to ask for help, but for Jen, caring for him is more than a duty -it's a need. And as Jen guides Shane through the fires of healing, she finds something she never expected - her deepest desire.
Loveswept; November 14, 2011